Yesterday was my oldest son’s ninth birthday and we embarked on nine random acts of kindness as a way to celebrate that day. It’s something we’ve never actually shared with him since he arrived and departed at the same moment. And, as regular readers know, we’ve done different things each year to commemorate his too-short life. Here’s last year’s post. And now for this year’s version…it’s really become one of my very favorite days!
Thanks to all of you who follow and “Like” and comment and show love on Facebook – you know who you are. For you, it’s just a recap. Oh, and for more on the whole Kindness-as-a-way-to-remember project, go here.
We started the morning with a note in the mailbox for the mailman:
It was a hand-made thank you note from the boys with a Sonic gift card.
RAK #2: Adopt-A-Soldier
We mailed off a care package to a platoon of soldiers in a remote area of Afghanistan. There’s a great list of things they like to receive at the Adopt-A-Soldier website with plenty of detailed instructions. Also, I got the best service I’ve ever witnessed at the post office when they found out what I was trying to mail…so that was a bonus.
RAK #3: Book Donation
The elementary school in our neighborhood was having a used book drive…easy, breezy choice! I got to clean out the kids’ bookshelves and the library got some new goods!
RAK #4: Animal Defense League
We delivered a bunch of items from their wish list to the facility…and then we walked around and paid a lot of attention to the critters there. What a great facility it seems to be…so clean and well-kept…open access to all the animals and lots of outdoor spaces. We had a great time there and even managed to NOT come home with extra animals (which made Ron very happy.)
RAK #5: Hidden money at the Dollar Store
The boys had a lot of fun doing this one – stealthily sneaking throughout the toy section at the Dollar Store and stashing little envelopes that said “Open Me” which held $1.10 (you know, to cover tax.) :) Lincoln really wanted to stick around and see if we could watch someone find it…which I admit would have been fun.
Seriously, this is one of my favorite programs on the planet. They do amazing, inspiring, heart-wrenching work here…and I hope beyond hope that all the kids I love never need any of their services. But I do feel more peaceful just knowing they are out there doing such important, life-changing things. They also have an online wish list and the boys were delighted to stock up on art supplies and snacks for us to donate to their groups.
The place is littered with teddy bears…every kid who comes to programs there gets one as a comfort buddy. Whit clearly wanted to take that one home. (Which would have been better than a dog from the shelter!)
RAK #7: Flowers and cards and hugs
Several years ago my dad’s aunt spent her last years in an assisted living facility fairly close to our house. It has changed names and ownership several times since then, but we spent a fair amount of time there when Lincoln was very small. And nothing lights up a place like that quite like children, right? So we descended upon their lobby and dining room this afternoon armed with homemade cards, a huge bundle of carnations and endless hugs. If I wouldn’t have been so busy trying to keep Whitman out of trouble, I probably would have teared up several times. It was easily my favorite part of the day.
RAK #8: SAMM Ministries
There are no photos from this RAK…the facility has security measures and I couldn’t manage the bags of stuff we were delivering and a camera all while trying to keep Whit from taking over the place. But I think everyone knows what they need at homeless/transitional housing shelters…big boxes of diapers and laundry detergent and scads of toothbrushes and toothpaste, etc. The volunteers were delighted to see it all. And I had one of the best conversations of the day with the boys as we were leaving…they had been watching the people walk in and out while in the car and Lincoln had plenty of questions about what it means to be “homeless” and he was really trying to wrap his brain around the big boxes of diapers were we delivering. “So who’s babies are they? Those babies don’t have a home?” “What’s it like inside? Like an apartment or more like a hotel?” and my favorite, “Do people want to be homeless or does it happen by accident?” Which, of course, has a much more complicated answer than I could really give him…but a great conversation nonetheless.
And finally…. RAK #9: Park
Clean-Up Egg Hunt
I had planned to head to a park and do a little cleaning up, but the parks by our house happen to all be very well taken care of, so there wasn’t much to do. I was semi-prepared for that to be the case…and it was almost dark by the time we got there anyway…so, Plan B: an egg hunt!
The flash didn’t make for such a great pic of the boys…but they sure had a blast hiding eggs with their flashlights all over the playground area at the park. And a few quick games of hide-and-seek in the dark might have also occurred. I think if I didn’t have to work in the morning, I’d be tempted to head back out there and watch the kids who get surprised when they show up to play tomorrow!
So there you are…all 9 RAKs in one place.
One of my favorite days concludes…and I feel full and blessed and grateful. So, so many of you shared in this day, participated in RAKs of your own in Wheeler’s honor and I can’t begin to express to you how warm and fuzzy it makes me feel to have his name spoken and written and shared all over the place in the spirit of kindness and selflessness. I have so much peace knowing that, even though his life did not turn out the way I wanted it to at all, that it continues to have meaning and momentum and a legacy of its own. And for that, I thank you – my friends and family and MISSters and readers.
And lastly, good night my dear, sweet birthday boy.
These nine years don’t look like what I expected them to…but I remain humbled by your lessons and gifts and legacy. Your soul continues to be a source of comfort for me and inspiration to others…and I am just as proud of you as I would be were you running down a soccer field or handing me a report card. Thank you for choosing me as your mom – it continues to be one of the greatest honors in my life.
All my love for all time –